When there’s a new, groundbreaking app to be developed or a best-seller novel to be written, the sentence ”I’ll sleep when I die” often echoes in our heads. Not to burst every overachiever’s bubble, but everyone isn’t cut out to survive on three hours of sleep. In fact, scientists estimate that short sleepers make up only 1 to 3 percent of the population. The cause? A genetic mutation. Those of us who didn’t win the genetic lottery, we jeopardize not only our success but also our health when we short sleep.
So how does someone who isn’t Tom Ford, who’s said to grab three hours, succeed in a demanding work environment? We found the secret sauce to success for the non sleepless majority.
They get the right amount of sleep
Aside from being leaders in their respective fields, Arianna Huffington, Jeff Bezos and The Dalai Lama have one other thing in common. They clock eight hours of slumber. Though what’s considered a good night’s sleep may be personal, most of us need seven to nine hours to feel well-rested. Those hours are the secret to a successful career and a long life to enjoy the benefits of said career.
According to Fortune, a study showed that adults age 45 and older who get less than six hours of sleep are 200 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. However, the effects of a short shut-eye aren’t packaged in a heart attack that arrives on your 45th birthday. They can rear their ugly heads the next day.
Anna Askri, a project sourcing manager at Scania Group, knows this all too well. She tries to get her eight hours but when she misses a few hours, she doesn't feel well and finds that it’s harder to perform well at work. Askri’s observation is consistent with most studies. Sleep deprivation can result in memory loss, cognitive delays and irritability — creating roadblocks in our path toward success while damaging relationships we hold dear.
They’re conservative with their time
Danielle Prescod, style director at BET, is strict with her hours and attributes her well-being to her sleep habits. Despite working in a demanding industry with tight deadlines and holding a title that requires her to alter her lifestyle often, she always prioritizes herself and is conservative with her time.
“I’ve drastically reduced my schedule and don’t go to everything anymore,” she says about fashion week. Before Prescod cut back on the number of events she attended, fashion week would wreak havoc on her normal routine. She couldn’t work out as usual — which is twice a day sometimes — and she would stay up late to answer work-related and/or personal emails after the late-night events. For Prescod, who averages 8 hours and 52 minutes of sleep a night, fashion week is disruptive.
“It’s just such an interruption,” she says and admits that although she’s not going to all the events anymore, she still “haven’t figured out a hack” to maintaining her lifestyle 100 percent during fashion week.
Askri, who travels a lot for work is also conservative with her time. When meeting clients overseas, her days tend to be long and clients often expect her to attend after-work activities. Despite being tempted to do everything on the schedule, she usually politely declines so she can maintain her sleep routine as much as possible. But just like Prescod, she admits that it’s difficult to sustain her routine 100 percent. But she makes up for it, by prioritizing self-care and forgoing socializing with friends the days after her work trip.
“Sometimes, you just have to sacrifice certain things to feel good,” she says.